The Bionic Buzzard

Published 11.04.13

When the Wildlife Aid Foundation gave us a call to help them with an unusual patient we immediately offered to help the injured patient. Dogs and cats are the mainstay of the patients we see at Fitzpatrick Referrals but the depth of surgical experience at the clinic and the huge variety of orthopaedic instrumentation at our disposal means we can adapt our usual approach to help almost any small animal. In this case we were called to help a beautiful Buzzard. The Buzzard is now the most wide-spread bird of prey in the UK and they can be spotted soaring above both the urban and rural landscapes throughout the UK.

The young creature had broken its wing after colliding with a power line and was in a sorry state when it was presented to the Wildlife Aid Foundation. Simon Cowell of the Wildlife Aid Foundation rushed the bird across to the clinic for Noel’s opinion on the injury. It was obvious from the out-set that the injury was going to be a tricky one to repair. Not only because of the complex nature of the fracture but also due to the brittle nature of the birds skeleton which makes placing metal implants into the bone a precarious endeavour!

After much deliberation it was decided to proceed with surgery as this beautiful creature deserved the chance to be soaring through the sky once again and without at least trying to help this beautiful animal there wasn’t going to be a chance of that happening again. The Buzzard was carefully anaesthetised and brought into the theatre. Its feathers were gently plucked from the surgical site and with the birds life hanging in the balance Noel took one last look at the radiographs before making his first incision. The surgery presented many challenges. Firstly the fracture was buried deep beneath the bird’s powerful pectoral muscles meaning the approach to the fracture was incredibly difficult. Secondly the main blood supply to the birds wing was running directly over the fracture site, even a tiny nick to this artery would have led to devastating blood loss and the patient would have died. The atmosphere in theatre was tense throughout the surgery – was this beautiful creature even going to survive the anaesthesia and surgery never mind make it back to the wild?

Eventually after almost 2 hours Noel placed the last metal pin into the now repaired bird’s wing. The tiny bones had withstood the metal implants placed into them, there had been minimal blood loss, the anaesthesia had gone without a hitch and the post-surgery x-rays revealed a perfect realignment of the birds broken bones. Noel and the nursing team had done everything possible to save this creatures life; with the Buzzard recovered safely from anaesthesia we left the rest of the process to the wonderful team at the Wildlife Aid Foundation and Mother Nature.

So was there a happy ending to this tale? Well after six weeks of recovery we are delighted to reveal that our beautiful friend returned to the wild. Watch the video to see the birds dramatic return to nature.